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TripAdvisor ranks Mama’s Fish House Top 10 in U.S.

Mama’s Fish House Service Manager Kevin O’Malley (left) and General Manager Tami Joslin are stoked about the award. “We are top 10 in the U.S. in the category of fine dining, right here near downtown Paia,” says O’Malley. “You’ve just got to love it!” The Maui News / CARLA TRACY photo

TripAdvisor, the travel planning and booking site, recently announced Travelers’ Choice awards for top restaurants around the world — and Maui’s own Mama’s Fish House ranked No. 10 for fine dining in the entire country.

“In my heart this all comes down to Maui and the attraction that Maui has and continues to have,” says Mama’s Vice President Karen Christenson, daughter of founders and owners Floyd and Doris Christenson, whose iconic Kuau restaurant also ranks No. 1 on Maui year after year in The Maui News’ Best of Maui readers poll.

“It’s all about our staff, who are so happy to live here, they give of their gracious aloha spirit freely to our patrons. And it’s about longevity. Mama’s has been here for 43 years. My folks worked hard each year on every detail. The concept is not diluted as they are not opening another one. There can only be one Mama’s Fish House.”

This year’s TripAdvisor awards recognize 528 restaurants overall, including the top 25 fine dining in the world and dedicated lists for Canada, Europe, Asia, India, Mexico, South America, South Pacific, the U.K. and the U.S.

This year, TripAdvisor has also awarded some of the best bargain dining establishments around the world, taking into account the quantity and quality of reviews for restaurants around the world, gathered over a 12-month period.

Helena’s Hawaiian Food in Honolulu was the only Hawaii restaurant to get in the Top 10 in the U.S. for bargain dining. Since 1946, Helena’s has served up traditional Hawaiian cuisine including kalua pig and short ribs pipikaula style.

“Thanks to insights from the millions of tastemakers in the TripAdvisor community, we’re excited to recognize the top restaurants around the world,” says Barbara Messing, TripAdvisor’s chief marketing officer. “This esteemed restaurants list can be consulted for a special night out, a meal without breaking the bank, or anyone looking to book a special gourmet getaway.”

Top 10 Fine Dining Restaurants in the U.S.:

1. Alinea — Chicago, Ill.

For his 10th anniversary, Alinea chef Grant Achatz decided to deconstruct his own creation, revamping the restaurant and its popular menu that promises a timeless spin on the freshest food.

A TripAdvisor reviewer stated, “You will be there for four hours, but it will be four hours of culinary ecstasy! Each course is carefully prepared and executed like a work of art. The mix of flavors and presentation is unparalleled.”

2. Victoria & Albert’s — Orlando, Fla.

Chef Scott Hunnel features modern American cuisine in a beautiful Old-World setting, using flavors from all over the world to enhance local ingredients.

Observed one TripAdvisor reviewer, “The whole experience here is like having front row orchestra seats. Food, presentation and service are perfect. The ultimate place for that special or any occasion!”

3. Per Se — New York City, N.Y.

Thomas Keller’s New York outpost does a daily nine-course tasting menu that showcases classic French gastronomy.

“Per Se lets the food speak for itself by finding the perfect balance between tradition and innovation without trying to add gimmicky touches. Beyond the headline dishes, the menu is sophisticated and not overbearing. Between the heavier dishes, there was a great selection of fresh and delicate dishes,” wrote a TripAdvisor reviewer.

4. Hall’s Chophouse — Charleston, S.C.

At this storied steakhouse, celebrated as one of America’s best, the Hall family puts a premium not just on the quality meat and other ingredients, but on hospitality.

One TripAdvisor reviewer playfully proclaimed, “Don’t go here! Hall’s will ruin every future restaurant experience you ever have. It’s that good. Though it’s not just for carnivores, a classic steak and a classic experience awaits.”

5. Bouley — New York City, N.Y.

Vaulted ceilings, opulent fabrics and the aroma of ripe apples greet you when you enter Bouley. On your plate? The season’s finest ingredients prepared with purity and health in mind. Travelers should book a reservation soon as the restaurant is reported to be closing by the end of the year.

States a TripAdvisor reviewer, “Still (after 30+ years) the most creative cuisine around, with an attention to quality and freshness in ingredients, subtle and nuanced preparation, and superb service, all in one of the most beautiful spaces in New York.”

6. Charleston Grill — Charleston, S.C.

Cool jazz, dark wood and marble floors welcome visitors to the Charleston Grill. The menu puts a French spin on low-country style, from sauteed frog legs, to fried green tomatoes.

A TripAdvisor reviewer raved, “Fantastic food, beautiful setting, classic Southern hospitality. The dishes are elegantly crafted and the service is impeccable. Get a table near the garden and absorb a true Charleston treasure.”

7. Daniel — New York City, N.Y.

Daniel Boulud now owns restaurants around the globe, but his flagship restaurant in New York City is still the crown jewel. His bold blend of classic and contemporary French cuisine ranges from foie gras to lapin.

“Decor is delightful, service unobtrusive but totally attentive. The four-course tasting menu is complemented by an amuse bouche, coffee, macaroon and chocolates and even a tasty canele to take away to remember your evening,” praised one reviewer on TripAdvisor.

8. Restaurant Gary Danko — San Francisco, Calif.

Farm-fresh ingredients and dash of the dramatic turn classic French fare new and exciting. After 17 years, Restaurant Gary Danko is now as iconic as its Fisherman’s Wharf surroundings.

“It is a lovely setting, refined and understated. The menu is quite interesting, with options for three, four or five courses and selections broad enough to please any palate and mood. The food was simply sublime, well-prepared, and beautifully presented,” wrote a TripAdvisor reviewer.

9. The French Laundry — Yountville, Calif.

Another elite Thomas Keller restaurant, The French Laundry brought classic French cuisine to the Napa Valley.

According to a TripAdvisor reviewer, “Not for the gastronomically challenged, this restaurant will take your palate on a run through fresh-grown vegetables to perfectly cured meats. I enjoyed every single aspect of this restaurant, from its gardens to its fine service. I took a nice ride through Thomas Keller’s mind and emerged better for it.”

10. Mama’s Fish House — Kuau, Hawaii

Nestled in an oceanfront coconut grove, Mama’s Fish House has been setting the standard for fresh fish, local cuisine and Hawaiian hospitality for more than 40 years. The daily menu even lists the names of the fisherman who caught the day’s offerings.

A TripAdvisor reviewer noted that Mama’s serves “the absolute freshest, most simple yet exquisitely prepared seafood on Maui, bar none. The setting is paradise — and the decor is vintage Hawaiian and delightful.”

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